Today’s Republican Party is getting back to conservative principles, and for good reason. President George W. Bush left the country with an anemic economy, increasing the debt from $5.73 trillion to $10.7 trillion and engaging in two unsustainable military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The country went too off-track during the Bush Republican tenure.
Conservatives like myself were disenchanted by this compassionate conservatism. Political analyst Fred Barnes pioneered this term by defending Bush’s push for expanding social services with programs such as No Child Left Behind and the prescription drug bill. But all of these policies led to today’s fiscal havoc (obviously along with Obama’s reckless spending).
Even though our country is in dire financial crisis, the GOP cannot opt out from compromise. Jeb Bush is right in saying that Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. Walker Bush would not get reelected in today’s Republican Party. These men led and worked together with Democrats. Unfortunately, compromise is a mortal sin in today’s political arena.
Jeb Bush blames both parties for the toxic politics. He praises Rep. Paul Ryan for his willingness to sit down with Democrats and come up with a plan to solve the budget crisis. At the end of day, Bush blames Democrats a lot more.
Bush told the Associated Press, “I hold Democrats more accountable because they control two of the three offices — president & Senate. Over the last four years, they have had multiple opportunities and have opted to take the politically expedient route over working together to find a policy solution.”
His criticism of the party doesn’t make him a Republican In Name Only. For those who believe that he is a RINO, let’s go over his “liberal” record. His education reform as governor of Florida is championed by many conservatives. He fought tooth and nail for school vouchers and charter schools in order to diversify the education market. The Florida A-Plus Plan improved the situation for many students especially black and Latino pupils where they had a 365 percent increase in passing Advanced Placement tests-high school courses that qualify for college credit). The success of his education reform was replicated by other states.
We must ask ourselves, is someone a RINO for just criticizing the Republican Party? Are Ron Paul, George Will, Joe Scarborough, and or Pat Buchanan RINOs for calling out President Bush for his massive increase in spending and his expansionist foreign policy? There is a difference between being a liberal Republican and criticizing the party.
As a conservative Republican, I believe that we need to be open to criticism and compromise. Jeb is right. Reagan and the first Bush achieved many legislative successes by working across the aisle. Reagan was known for drinking whiskey with the late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill even though they despised each other. Reagan would call O’Neill and ask him, “Hey Tip, is it 6 o’clock yet?” Reagan knew that he had to invite O’Neill in order to pass his agenda.
How do you think Governor Chris Christie curbed union rights? Did he sit by himself in his office along with other Republicans and close his door to all Democrats? Christie said last week that “Our problems are too big and too serious for us to say as Republicans we won’t work with Democrats and as Democrats we won’t work with Republicans.” Even Governor Scott Walker urged his supporters in his victory speech from the recall election to work together with Democrats in order to improve the economic situation in Wisconsin. He wants to meet with Democrats for beer and bratwurst sausages to work together. Are both Christie and Walker RINOs?
The Republican Party should work across the aisle and so should Democrats. No one party can govern by itself. This would be appalling to our founding fathers. They thought that political parties or factions would endanger the state of the republic. James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 10, “When a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government, on the other hand, enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.” Majority rule is the greatest enemy of our democracy.
Politicians need to break up current factions and sit down to work together. Democrats should put entitlement spending on the table and Republicans must be able to talk about revenue increases. The American people don’t care about ideology. They only want government to work for them and solve their problems. They want government to make things easier on them.
Compromise doesn’t abolish conservative principles. Christie’s recent tax cut legislation got support from New Jersey’s state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester). The governor’s legislation would cut income taxes by 10 percent. This is far from the liberal agenda and yet Christie is working together with Democrats.
That’s leadership. This country needs more leaders to work together and put country first instead of ideology. Granted, I want conservative reforms but again Republicans need to be willing to work with Democrats and vice versa. Obama needs to sit down with Budget Chairman Ryan and devise a sustainable budget plan. Without compromise there won’t be any legislative success. We don’t need to wait until a party captures full authority of the federal government in order to pass legislation.
Bottom line is: politicians from both parties should invite each other for drinks. Live up to Reagan’s example. Try it: “Hey Obama, is it 6 o’clock yet?”